by Richard Schiffman

You are eleven years old.
No human has leapt gazelle-like on the Moon.
Rover is a dog’s name, not a go-cart on the planet Mars.
Uranus and Neptune are frigid, invisible gods,
while far-off Pluto is still a bonafide planet,
unprobed even in imagination.
In orbit, an American chimp and a Russian dog.
Sputnik is the goad that drives the race.
Allan Shepherd is waiting, waiting
on the launch pad. And you are also waiting
to blast off into white hot puberty—and beyond.
Nothing is clear yet. But there are sidelong glances
through the eyepiece of a Sears and Roebuck
mail-order telescope of Mars’ red deserts, Jupiter’s
stormy weather, Saturn’s platinum wedding band,
Mercury’s fleet cinder, the ammoniac mists of Venus,
Moon’s ashen seas and Swiss cheese craters.
So many fruiting bodies ripe in space.
As if the future, while not quite visible to the naked eye,
was not light-years away either
but something a child could almost reach up
and pluck.

Copyright © 2020 by Richard Schiffman


Featured Poet of the Month  Richard Schiffman

Richard Schiffman is an environmental journalist, poet and author of two biographies. My work has appeared in numerous literary journals and other venues including the New York Times, BBC Radio, Writer’s Almanac, This American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and many other publications. His poetry collection “What the Dust Doesn't Know” was published last year by Salmon Poetry.

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